RA­JASTHAN STATE TO­WARDS SUS­TAIN­ABLE EN­VI­RON­MENT

Down to Earth - - CLIMATE CHANGE - @ji­gya­sawat­wani

1. The State Board is mea­sur­ing real time air qual­ity through con­tin­u­ous real time am­bi­ent air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion at Jaipur and Jodh­pur. These sta­tions will also op­er­ate in all mil­len­nium cities by De­cem­ber, 2016. 2. The mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion “Ra­j­vayu” en­ables all cit­i­zens to view real time air qual­ity as well as me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal pa­ram­e­ters on their mo­bile. 3. The mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion launched by RPCB fa­cil­i­tates in­dus­tries hav­ing con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing fa­cil­i­ties to get real time data of pol­lu­tants dis­charge/emit­ted from their in­dus­tries. 4. The state is head­ing to­wards Zero liq­uid dis­charge sta­tus by in­stalling RO plants and recycling treated waste water in all ma­jor tex­tile clus­ters like Jodh­pur, Pali, Balo­tra, Bhilwara and Jaipur. 5. Ra­tio­nal­iza­tion and fast dis­posal of con­sent/ au­tho­riza­tion/ regis­tra­tion. On­line sub­mis­sion and track­ing of con­sent ap­pli­ca­tion, e-com­mu­ni­ca­tion through SMS alert and e-mail also in place. Let­ter is­sued on­line with dig­i­tal sig­na­ture. 6. En­cour­ag­ing green cat­e­gory and MSME in­dus­tries by ex­empt­ing them from con­sent mech­a­nism (white cat­e­gory). 7. Pro­ce­dures in place for bet­ter ac­count­abil­ity, clar­ity and trans­parency in func­tion­ing of the State Board. 8. An skill de­vel­op­ment cen­tre “Cen­tre For Ex­cel­lence” is be­ing pro­moted for de­vel­op­ing 9. To re­duce solid waste State Board is en­cour­ag­ing star­tups for which a pol­icy is in place.

and 2012 were rain de­fi­cient, while Ker­ala had 24 rain-de­fi­cient years in the same pe­riod, says the pa­per.

The de­crease in rain has had another ma­jor im­pact. This yewwwar, the av­er­age ground­wa­ter level in the 11 West­ern Ghat dis­tricts of Kar­nataka was 11.69 m, the lowest in 10 years. In 2015, water lev­els in seven of the 13 ma­jor reser­voirs of the state were at their lowest in 10 years. This year, another five were added to the list.

The rea­sons be­hind the steady de­cline in rain­fall and shift in mon­soon pat­tern are de­bat­able, but re­searchers say that changes in land use have ex­ac­er­bated their im­pact. “Loss of tree cover, re­duc­tion in area un­der paddy cul­ti­va­tion and un­reg­u­lated ac­tiv­i­ties along river banks have re­duced water yields,” says C G Kusha­lappa, a pro­fes­sor at Forestry Col­lege, Pon­nam­pet, Kar­nataka.

Dis­ap­pear­ing bio­di­ver­sity

The chang­ing mon­soon pat­terns, fre­quent ex­treme weather events and rising tem­per­a­tures are also tak­ing a toll on the bio­di­ver­sity of the moun­tain range that har­bours over 5,000 species of flow­er­ing plants, 139 of mam­mals, 508 of birds and 179 species of am­phib­ians. In 2009, the In­dian In­sti­tute of Sci­ence( iisc), Ben­galuru, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Earth­watch, an in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal charity, and the Hong Kong and Shang­hai Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion, un­der­took a project to mon­i­tor the forests in the Ghats. In Kar­nataka’s Ut­tar Kan­nada district, they mon­i­tored 12 one-hectare plots for al­most three years. Sim­i­lar stud­ies were con­ducted in Shi­moga district of Kar­nataka and Nil­giri district of Tamil Nadu.

“We no­ticed a lot of changes in the for­est ecosys­tem. In­ten­sive hu­man dis­tur­bances, apart from nat­u­ral calami­ties, had led to ero­sion of species rich­ness, dis­rup­tion of the closed canopy and spread of in­va­sive species in a few plots,” says Indu Murthy, pro­fes­sor at iisc, un­der whom the study was con­ducted. For in­stance, in Ut­tar Kan­nada, farm­ers say that Ter­mi­na­lia to­men­tosa (asana), a ver­ti­cally fis­sured grey-black tree whose tim­ber was a good source of in­come, has dis­ap­peared. iisc sci­en­tists also ob­served that canopies had opened up in some of the plots in Sirsi taluk of the district. Although an­thro­pogenic de­for­esta­tion may be at

play, Murthy says there is a pos­si­bil­ity that heavy nat­u­ral winds dur­ing the south­west­ern mon­soon caused the felling of trees. Open­ing up of the canopy causes a pro­lif­er­a­tion of species that thrive in light. In some cases, these may com­pete with, and even­tu­ally take over, na­tive species. For in­stance, in Sirsi, re­searchers ob­served spread of the in­va­sive Eu­pa­to­rium chro­mo­laena ( Madras poo) in some plots.

In the Nil­giri Bio­sphere Re­serve lo­cated in the Ghats, a project sim­i­lar to the Ut­tar Kan­nada project, car­ried out un­der R Suku­mar, pro­fes­sor at the Cen­tre for Eco­log­i­cal Sci­ences, iisc, shows that the 2001 drought and the 2002 deficit rain made the grasses in the re­gion dry and fire­prone. Their re­gen­er­a­tive ca­pac­ity also de­clined. As a re­sult, in­va­sive Lan­tana ca­mara ( unni chedi) spread. How­ever minute, such changes in bio­di­ver­sity are sig­nif­i­cant. “This is a cause for con­cern. What we can do is re­duce the frag­men­ta­tion of forests. Greater con­nec­tiv­ity will en­sure seam­less seed dis­per­sal and ger­mi­na­tion, and may even save species,” says R K Chaturvedi, a re­searcher at iisc.

Ac­cord­ing to a 2012 pa­per pub­lished in The­o­ret­i­cal and Ap­plied Cli­ma­tol­ogy, the trend of de­clin­ing rain­fall in the Ghats will con­tinue, with ma­jor im­pacts on the west coast of Ker­ala and Kar­nataka. With cli­mate mod­els pro­ject­ing a drier fu­ture for the Ghats, these im­pacts are only go­ing to be­come more pro­nounced and wide­spread.

“The trend of re­duced yield in dams and dry sea­son in rivers will have much wider im­pli­ca­tions on food se­cu­rity, hu­man-wildlife con­flicts and con­flicts over water in the en­tire penin­sula,” says Mad­hu­sood­hanan. The West­ern Ghats re­gion is slowly be­com­ing the per­fect ex­am­ple of cli­mate change in ac­tion, he adds.

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